Our columnist feels the temptation to run Ten Sovereigns in the Coolmore Nunthorpe should be too strong for connections to resist.
Sovereigns ready for York test
On Monday Aidan O’Brien would only go as far as saying the Coolmore Nunthorpe at York remains an “option” for Ten Sovereigns, but August 23 should be firmly ringed in the office calendar at Ballydoyle.
Its an absolute shot to nothing.
His resurgence in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday was foretold in the betting markets. 10/1 into 7/2 by the time many had slept off their Friday excesses and reached for a medicinal rasher sandwich or two - the cat was out of the bag.
Afterwards we were told of the dazzling homework since Ascot that had clearly filtered out to selected ears pre-race.
"The guys at home were all much happier with his homework coming here. The times of his last few pieces of work have been unbelievable. In his last piece of work he broke 11 second every furlong for four furlongs, and for a horse to do that is something special," the trainer said.
"I don't think dropping back to five furlongs would be any problem but it's all about him now, he's only a three-year-old so we'll see how he comes out of it.
"When he can do those times at home then he has to be something special. I think he was something like 2.5 seconds quicker over four furlongs than anything we have ever seen and that told us something different was going on."
Two-and-a-half seconds faster than Stravinsky? That would do the job.
Now I know it often seems Aidan is speaking with the prospective Coolmore stallion brochure in mind but seriously if he’s that quick at home why won’t they go to York?
And if he does he’ll be nothing like the current 5/1 by the time the stalls open on what is hopefully a glorious North Yorkshire afternoon.
There was more than a hint of brilliance to his performance at Newmarket and while the question he must answer is 'does he have the raw speed to cope with a fast five at York?', its not as though Dayjur and Oasis Dream are waiting in the wings.
Battaash is but the Knavesmire really hasn’t looked his cup of tea for the last couple of years. Mabs Cross is a wonderful mare and thoroughly admirable, but clearly vulnerable to a top-class three-year-old. Soldier's Call has been placed in an Abbaye at two and a King's Stand at three - but he's not going to force a desperate search on the racing admin site for a Plan B.
Ten Sovereigns looks sprinter through-and-through and let's see if he can let rip at five. Success and you have a top flight triumph at the minimum trip to add a few more to the queue outside his covering shed. Failure - well there's still Haydock and a step back up to six furlongs.
But why wait for the Sprint Cup? After all, we’re told he wants quick ground to bounce off and that’s far from guaranteed in Newton-Le-Willows come the autumn.
Throw in the Coolmore sponsorship and the Nunthorpe is a logical and sporting next test for our July Cup winner.
He’s no 5/1 chance to pass it either.
Too early to pull up stumps with Masar
There’s no doubting the saddest sight of the Newmarket July Festival was Masar trailing home last in a muddling race for the Princess Of Wales's Stakes. Questions over his future were inevitable afterwards and plenty encouraged an honourable retirement for the 2018 Investec Derby hero.
But what’s the rush?
There was enough encouragement in his return in the Hardwicke to suggest the fire still burns and maybe Newmarket came too quickly for him after those exertions?
He was caught on the outside of the field with no cover and over-raced too so as disappointing as it was, it’s not impossible to put a line through the performance.
Clearly there’s no point continuing with his racing career if he isn’t capable of competing - and winning – at Group One level. He was a long way short of that last week, but Charlie Appleby seemingly isn't ready to throw in the towel.
He mooted a possible switch to ten furlongs where the stronger gallop would encourage Masar to settle.
If his work post-Newmarket continues to encourage those closest to him to roll the dice again, then it would be wonderful to see him freshened up and pointed at the Juddmonte International for example.
At least we'd know then if it was time to exit stage left. It felt too soon to be reaching that conclusion on Thursday.
The kids are alright
One notable aspect of the July Festival was the strength of the juvenile races.
Visinari may have come a short head and a head short of justifying the hype surrounding his debut win by landing the July Stakes, but still he took a big leap forward in the Group Two contest.
He looked to be a colt crying out for a seventh furlong and will get that in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood where his long stride will be put to good use. He remains a potentially potent force.
So is Mystery Power, a taking winner of the bet365 Superlative Stakes. He's by No Nay Never but there’s stamina aplenty on the dam’s side and he put that to good use to see off the promising Juan Elcano on the climb to the line.
He’s a powerful individual, with plenty of scope, and has earned a crack at a good pot this autumn.
The Wetherbys EBF Maiden Stakes on Friday was won by stablemate Al Madhar who is an interesting project for the Hannon team. He was very strong at the finish on debut and will go on again, at a mile plus somewhere down the line.
But don’t be drawing a line through runner-up Al Suhail. A 1.1million guineas Dubawi half-brother to Telecaster, he went through much of the contest as the best horse in the race. He quickened nicely to seemingly put it to bed approaching the furlong marker, only to be cut down late. He could still make the grade.
However, the most significant performance of all was that of Raffle Prize in winning the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes. She defied a three-pound penalty to beat old adversary and Albany Stakes heroine Daahyeh by an authoritative length-and-three-quarters.
A dual Group Two winner, she’s earned a crack at top prizes – and the boys – and will get both in the Prix Morny at Deauville next. It will take a quick one to beat her.